Paulick Report’s Voss Sweeps Both 2020 Media Eclipse Award Writing Categories For Stories On Aftercare

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters today announced the winners of the 2020 Media Eclipse Awards in six categories. This year’s awards are highlighted by Natalie Voss, Editor-in-Chief of the Paulick Report, becoming the first individual to win two writing award categories in the same year since the late Bill Nack earned two awards in 1991.

The 2020 Media Eclipse Award winners are as follows:
Feature/Commentary Writing – Natalie Voss, Paulick Report “’An Angel On His Shoulder’: This Thoroughbred’s Fate Was Written In Ink,” May 13, 2020.

News/Enterprise Writing – Natalie Voss, Paulick Report – Multi-part Series: “A Decade In, How Are We Doing With Thoroughbred Aftercare?” Dec. 2, 2019; “Emptying The Ocean With A Teaspoon: The Challenges Of Aftercare,” Dec. 3, 2019; and “Aftercare Should Not Be An Afterthought: Solutions For The Future,” Dec. 4, 2019.

Television – Live Racing Programming – NBC Sports, “The Breeders’ Cup World Championships,” Nov. 7, 2020; Billy Matthews and Lindsay Schanzer, producers.

Television – Features – NBC Sports “Riders Up: The World’s First Sports Bubble,” Oct. 2, 2020 on NBCSN; Produced by the Hennegan Brothers.

Audio/Multi-Media Internet – Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) “To Hell and Back: Belmont Marks A Deserved Triumph for New York City,” Joe Bianca, writer and narrator, Patty Wolfe, producer.

Photography – Alex Evers, Paulick Report “A Derby Without Fans,” Sept. 21, 2020.

Entries were accepted for 2020 Media Eclipse Awards consideration for works which appeared from Nov. 17, 2019 to Nov. 20, 2020.

Voss, from Georgetown, Kentucky, has now won three Eclipse Awards. In addition to the two honors this year, Voss won her first Media Eclipse Award in 2016 for News/Enterprise writing for her article on the lurking dangers of concussions for jockeys, which was also published in the Paulick Report.

“I never could have imagined this happening in my wildest dreams,” said Voss upon learning of her two Eclipse Awards in 2020. “It’s a tremendous honor to just win one award, but to win two in one year is unfathomable.

“I’m so pleased to see aftercare stories win in both categories this year. I really believe there are just as many compelling stories in that world as there are on the racetrack, and that they are just as much a part of the Thoroughbred industry.”

In “Angel on His Shoulder,” Voss describes the journey and fate of a claiming horse named Inked, and how he touched the lives of his original owner Kirsten Fada, his breeder, Susan Young, and horse transporter Hannah Meier over a three-year period. Each of these women, with no connection to each other at first, helped assure that Inked would have a safe home after the track. Fada eventually adopted him for a second career after an improbable reunion at the Second Stride OTTB program at Moserwood Farm in Kentucky.

Voss capsulizes the anxieties of those following horses who have moved on from their care:

Unless you have an inroad with the horse’s connections, you don’t know whether he suffered an injury or is enjoying a well-deserved vacation in a grassy field; whether he has moved on to a second career, or if he’s at the end of a long trailer ride in a forgotten pen somewhere. It feels wrong to assume the worst, but irresponsible not to consider it. Where the heart is concerned, the brain can run wild with worst-case scenarios you may be powerless to prevent.

For two years, Fada and Young, a thousand miles apart, were each intently tracking Inked’s career. In October 2019, Young found Inked entered in a race at Grants Pass, Oregon and promptly drove four hours from her home to meet the trainer and let him know that she wanted to buy him. Young wanted to send him to his birthplace in Kentucky for a rest before moving him on to an accredited aftercare organization. A short time later, Meier, a part owner of Circle J Transportation, was contracted to pick up a horse at the base of trainer Gilbert Ecoffey in South Dakota. Upon her arrival, she noticed a stocky chestnut in the field that looked awfully familiar. Meier immediately recognized Inked, who had been one of the horses she had worked with under the care of Ecoffey at Grants Pass.

Meier drove Inked to Phoenix Hill Farm in Paris, Kentucky. Meier was hoping that Phoenix Hill owner Kim Dionne would one day call her to take Inked as her own, but she could not work out the logistics due to Covid-19 restrictions. Meier learned a few weeks later that Inked had been picked up and sent to Moserwood, where Fada would re-enter the picture and be reunited with Inked. Young was “floored” to get an email that her gelding had been rehomed in 24 hours. Fada posted a note about her reunion on Facebook and was subsequently connected to Meier.

“When you love a horse that’s no longer yours, there is an incredible anxiety if you don’t have a good way to find out where it is,” said Voss. “When you love racing, there will be one or two horses that will become special to you whether they are in your barn or not. Horses get lost in the ether and you may never see them again. I was struck by the improbability of it all. This is not an accomplished racehorse; he was not easily trackable like a well-known stakes horse might have been, and the stars really had to align so that Inked came back to Kirsten.”

The winning entry can be viewed here.

Honorable mention in the Feature/Commentary category went to 2008 Eclipse Award winner Vinnie Perrone for “The Autumn of King Leatherbury,” which was published in racingbiz.com on Nov. 17, 2020.

Judges in the Feature/Commentary category were Dan Liebman, former editor of The BloodHorse and The State-Journal in Frankfort, Kentucky; Bill Kolberg, former assistant director of publicity at Santa Anita and Del Mar and published author on Thoroughbred racing; and Lynne Snierson, national award-winning turf writer for daily publications in Boston, Miami and St. Louis, and veteran racetrack publicist.

News/Enterprise: Multi-Part Series

In her three-part series that won the News/Enterprise writing category, Voss explores the achievements and struggles of the Thoroughbred aftercare movement that has reached prominence in the past decade. What began as one article on the phenomenon expanded into a series through the encouragement of publisher Ray Paulick and former Editor-in-Chief, Scott Jagow.

“I had some sense before I began the research process that the volume of horses needing aftercare was greater than the current infrastructure could handle,” said Voss, who earned a degree in Equine Science and Management from the University of Kentucky and also worked at the Secretariat Center at the Kentucky Horse Park before launching a career in journalism. “But the disparity between the number of horses in need of a second career and the capacity of the various accredited organizations was greater than I’d imagined, and really shows that more needs to be done.”

In part one of the series, “A Decade In, How Are We Doing With Thoroughbred Aftercare?,” Voss traces the evolution of aftercare from increased awareness of the problem through the explosion of social media, to initial “check off” fundraising efforts establish by The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Charities of America, to the great leap forward to the creation of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, which established high standards for accreditation and has overseen the distribution of $17.2 million to accredited organizations. The creation of second career incentive programs like Thoroughbred Makeover and The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program were also key.

Part two of the series, “Emptying The Ocean With A Teaspoon: The Challenges Of Aftercare,” raises questions about the cost of care for the high number of horses retired each year and the fate of horses that are never raced, and how retirement organizations can handle that load. It also raised questions about the slaughter pipeline and how the economics of that industry impact OTTBs.

Part three of the series “Aftercare Should Not Be An Afterthought: Solutions For The Future,” focused on the reliance on funding, continuing encouragement of horsemen to avoid “one final start” before retirement, and understanding that horses that retire healthy stand a far better chance of a second home that does who are not; and improved communication between racetracks and aftercare organizations on limiting the slaughter pipeline.

The winning submission can be viewed here: Part 1Part 2Part 3

Honorable Mention in the News/Enterprise category went to Richard Gross for “Authentic Proves He’s Just That,” a race recap of Kentucky Derby which appeared on the Horse Network website on Sept. 6, 2020.

Judges in the New Enterprise category were: Bob Kieckhefer, racing writer for United Press International; Rob Longley, sports columnist, who first covered the Triple Crown in both Canada and the U.S. in 1996 and is currently baseball columnist for the Toronto Sun; and David Papadopoulos, a senior editor at Bloomberg News.

The post Paulick Report’s Voss Sweeps Both 2020 Media Eclipse Award Writing Categories For Stories On Aftercare appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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